Creating a beautiful, functional kitchen or bathroom can appear to be just a creative task, with talented designers putting their ideas to work for customers. That part is true, but there’s much more to the design process and what it takes to bring ideas to fruition.
It takes a team – multiple teams, actually – said Cee Edwards, president of Wilmington’s Markraft Cabinets.
Behind each lead designer, Edwards said, are design assistants, project coordinators, schedulers, field service representatives, warehouse workers and installers. Each person plays a role in ensuring that everything comes together just as the customer wants and is cost-effective.
That’s crucial to homeowners, who are an important part of Markraft’s business, Edwards said. Good value for the money is important to everyone, whether a customer is building a brand-new house or renovating an existing home.
It’s also an essential consideration for the multifamily or commercial clients that Markraft serves. They include homebuilders, who may be developing an entire subdivision or working on a custom job for an individual customer. These also include the developers or owners of multi-family housing, for whom the cost of a single condo or apartment will be multiplied many times over.
The company’s retail customers know that the company’s lead designers will visit their homes and offer ideas to make their dreams come true. But behind the scenes are “support designers,” Edwards said, who look up specifications for appliances and cabinets, convert measurements into detailed plans, compile checklists and place orders.
And when it comes time to actually do the work in a customer’s home, a field representative acts as a liaison among the homeowner, the design team, the warehouse and the installers.
The same sort of teamwork goes into Markraft’s work with contractors and apartment complexes. “We want to have a relationship with the builder that’s a true partnership,” Edwards said. One important way that works is that a builder will bring blueprints for a particular house design to Markraft to get finished design work done. “We make suggestions,” Edwards said, about ways to enhance the house’s desirability to buyers while saving construction costs. Experienced designers know ways to make layouts more efficient that won’t be noticeable in a kitchen itself, but are definitely noticeable on the bottom line.
The same principle applies to the apartment projects that are a big part of Markraft’s work. Many of Wilmington’s apartment buildings date to the 1980s and are due for upgrades when tenants move out. In those rehab jobs, “We update the look and finish of the cabinets, the door styles and the colors,” typically to harmonize with new flooring and other interior finishes. This can be cost-effective for the owners, Edwards said, while still appealing to renters.
All that work, of course, involves teams that specialize in volume. With Markraft’s Volume Builder Business, the company assigns an account representative as the team leader. Field service representatives work directly with the contractors. “We have them out there walking the job,” Edwards said, assessing how the work is going, anticipating bottlenecks, and solving problems on the spot. “They’re making sure all the parts and pieces are there when they need to be.” Project coordinators in Markraft’s office track inventory, coordinate shipping from manufacturers and manage the flow of supplies to the field. They and the field reps communicate minute by minute, as needed, by cell phone and text message.
A weekly production meeting, led by account representatives, assesses what jobs are pending, who’s doing what, and what needs to be done in the next few days.
“People who work with us know we have the infrastructure behind the account representative and the lead designer,” Edwards said.
You can meet some of the professionals who make kitchen and bath ideas a reality at Markraft’s Design Center. The lead designers consult by appointment, but drop-in visitors are welcome to browse in the showroom. The Design Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.